The United States and Team Canada met in a World Junior Championship gold medal game for the ages. Two deep, talented teams. The Canadians went undefeated through their entire tournament, while the United States has been on a tear since dropping their first game to the Russians eleven days ago. Team USA were clear underdogs going into the game. The Canadians had 19 first overall picks to their name, what couldn’t this team do? In the end, the hard work of Team USA was too much for Canada to overcome as Team USA defeats Canada by a score of 2-0 to win the gold medal at the 2021 World Junior Championship.
Team USA Wins Gold At 2021 World Junior Championship
The Canadians picked up right where they left off against Russia yesterday. They won the opening draw and kept the pressure on early. In the first quarter of the period, there was rarely a point that Team Canada didn’t have control of the puck. However, both teams were yet to be playing their best hockey of the night. Spencer Knight was standing tall in net against the onslaught of shots he was facing. The United States, who had struggled to control the puck, found themselves some offensive momentum at the eleven-minute mark. Despite the series of shots thrown Devon Levi‘s way, they weren’t able to carry that pressure for very long.
The trend changed at the eight-minute mark, however. Matthew Boldy had himself two quality chances in one shift, shifting offensive momentum. This shift in momentum towards the United States lead way for a tip in front by Alex Turcotte from a Drew Helleson shot to break the tie. Team USA 1, Canada 0. This was the Canadians’ first goal against playing five-on-five hockey all-tournament. The momentum continued through the next few minutes of play, until a Canadian power-play opportunity. Despite the man-advantage, the power play was unsuccessful. The goaltender, Knight, was the glue holding the American penalty kill together those two minutes. Both teams traded offensive rushes to end the period, with the United States up by one goal heading into the intermission.
Team USA kept the pressure going right at the drop of the puck for period two. The leader in points for the United States, Trevor Zegras, netted his 6th goal to extend his team’s lead to two. The United States had found its grove against a Canadian team who was dominant all tournament long. The tables were turned, and the Americans’ weren’t going to let up easily. The United States was controlling the puck well under the net, extending their offensive zone presence with each pass, and play, under the net. Halfway through the period, it was still USA 2, Canada 0.
Jakob Pelletier had gone to the penalty box for a hooking minor just after the ten-minute mark. Up until this point, the United States’ power play was successful nine times out of the 21 power plays they had. The Canadiens won a draw in their own end and rushed out with purpose. Bowen Byram drove to the net and hit the post, with Dylan Cozens missing on the rebound attempt. Canada had successfully killed off the penalty and gained a little bit of momentum for themselves. A two-on-one opportunity for Payton Krebs was denied by Knight as he got a piece of the shot. The game was slowly being taken back by the Canadians after a handful of good shifts in a row. Brett Berard had himself a great scoring opportunity off of the rush with three minutes and change on the clock, to no avail as Levi kicked the puck aside. With under two minutes remaining, Connor Zary gets a centring pass from teammate Ryan Suzuki. Spencer Knight, once again, comes up big with another key save. After two periods, the United States had a two-goal lead on Team Canada.
The final stretch. A gold medal on the line for both teams. Turcotte fed Zegras on the wing for a great opening rush, but the Canadians brought the playback towards Knight who, once again, stood tall against the fiery Canadian attack. The game evened out after the opening moments of the period, as Team Canada seemed to be gaining some ground back from the Americans. Through the first break of the period, however, the scoreboard remained unchanged. At the 11 minute mark, the Canadians had a long sustained offensive possession in the Americans zone. This was the first time in a while they had applied that kind of pressure, forcing a defensive zone face-off for Team USA.
Through the rest of the period, the United States and Canada exchanged numerous scoring. But again it was Spencer Knight who stepped up for his team. He made the crucial save as Canada brought relentless pressure. None bigger than the stop on Connor McMichael late in the third period. Knight finished with a 34 save shutout and Team USA captures their fourth gold medal since 2000. Zegras was named the MVP of the tournament with 18 points (seven goals and 11 assists).
Bronze Medal Game
Earlier in the day Team Finland defeated Russia to win the bronze medal at the 2021 World Junior Championship thanks to two goals from Anton Lundell.
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